Emergency plagues party

University Police and Evanston Fire Department trucks and ambulances showed up at Willard Residential College on Friday in response to problems stemming from a dorm-sponsored Halloween bash, residents said — but university officials would not confirm any such activity.

Dorm government representatives organized a Halloween decoration contest and floor trick-or-treating for residents beginning at 3 p.m. Friday. The festivities ended around 10 p.m., but visitors to the dorm continued to arrive throughout the evening.

Willard security monitor Melinda Chan said ambulances arrived around midnight and took three people to the hospital. Residence hall officials could not confirm if the students taken to the hospital were Willard residents. Other sources said only two students were taken to the hospital.

Some Willard residents compared Friday’s Halloween party to the annual Frances Willard Party, though others emphasized that the event was not meant to be a substitution.

Tradition dictates that each October the dorm housing about 300 residents commemorates the birthday of prohibitionist Frances Willard with a hall decorating contest and dance party. However, this year the party was canceled when fire inspectors deemed the dorm’s common room unsafe for the typical guest list of more than 900 students.

“I think some people wanted it to make up for the Frances Willard Party, and it kind of was for some people,” said Tom Cohlmia, a McCormick freshman and Willard resident. “But for most it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

Though Kevin Kearney, president of Willard, said 80 to 90 percent of the people participating in the festivities were Willard residents, the security monitor said nearly 220 non-Willard residents signed in as guests for the Halloween party.

On an average weekend, Chan said, only 50 guests usually sign in.

“They came in such huge groups that a lot of people slipped by,” said Chan, a Weinberg freshman, adding that an additional 100 students likely entered the building without signing in. “If they were coming in at 9 (p.m.), they weren’t drunk. But people would leave drunk and then come back even more drunk.”

UP could not confirm the ambulance response and Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations, also said he did not know of any ambulance visits to Willard on Friday night.

Earlier in the evening, UP and fire trucks answered a fire alarm call around 7 p.m. that was set off by a fog machine, said Kearney, a Communication junior.

Residence Hall Coordinator Tim Gaylord said the dorm’s Halloween party was under control for most of the evening and that Willard’s executive board did not violate any policies.

Gaylord said Willard RAs did not report any student violations.

“The way we understood it, it was mainly a program for those not going up to Madison,” said Gaylord, a McCormick senior. “The hall government really took charge and completely cleaned up the mess that was there.”

The dorm’s president said the dorm had extra funds and wanted to do something for the residents on Halloween.

Willard Resident Peter Kahn said although they might have resembled the Willard Party, Friday night’s activities were much more low-key.

“It wasn’t so much to rejuvenate the Frances Willard Party, but it was more to rejuvenate Willard’s sense of community and spirit,” said Kahn, a Communication sophomore. “It was one of our big fall events and we really didn’t want Residential Life to suck the life out of the dorm.”

Kahn said rumors of the annual event from sophomore residents were one reason that freshman wanted to revive the party atmosphere.

“Freshmen took the opportunity to invite a lot of friends over, but it was much more tame than Frances Willard,” he said.

The Daily’s Janette Neuwahl and Sheila Burt contributed to this report.